As we emerge from our cocoons of self-isolation, what revelations will inform us as we move through the stages of our collective pandemic response?
This pandemic time has had far-reaching impacts. Employment issues, health issues and isolation issues have all been significant. For some, fortunately or unfortunately, there has been more available time to reflect on lifestyles, relationships, priorities, goals and the importance of faith.
A blog post from Emma Pavey helps focus reflections of faith with “fruit of the Spirit.” Her challenge to embrace the “fruit” of generosity is featured in this quote: “May we be thoughtful and generous in supporting companies, charities, ideas and movements that serve the common good and promote the well-being of the Earth. May we look for new ways we can serve that common good in a manner that brings us deep gladness.”
Our vision of the “common good” needs to consider not only the common good of the community that surrounds us in North America, but all the communities that inhabit our common Earth. We have significant discussions about the supply of personal protective equipment and ventilators in our hospitals. We should also recognize the same supplies are not readily available in less-wealthy areas of the globe. A recent report indicated that 10 countries in Africa do not have any ventilators.
Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) is reducing the scope of its international program because of anticipated overall revenue reductions due to thrift store closings and a decrease in donations. Programs are being cancelled in China, Vietnam and South Africa, and there will be an overall reduction of 25 percent of its international programming.
Mennonite World Conference (MWC) is receiving calls from Mennonite congregations from the Global South that are reporting a lack of food due to pandemic impacts. Similar calls a hundred years ago resulted in the formation of MCC and sending food support to Russia. MWC has a Global Sharing Fund in its organizational structure and it wants to increase the availability of shared resources.
The “common good” includes supporting MCC, the MWC Global Sharing Fund and their shared global objectives to respond to basic human needs. We need to reflect on how that serving, and that support, can bring us gladness and the assurance that we are effectively using the resources that God has given us.
Our goal should be to individually and collectively be the church in the midst of this health outbreak and the associated changes in our lives. What is the invitation from God to live within our uncertainties, and what opportunities are being presented to us to learn new dimensions about our faith and our mission?
Good things often happen when our lives are disrupted and are moving more slowly, so we can make room and time for what the Holy Spirit is calling us to do.
Gerry Grunau was recently elected as Mennonite Church British Columbia’s new moderator. He attends Langley Mennonite Fellowship.